Marilyn Manson Endorses Net Censorship

Calls the spreading of rumors on the Internet "really strange and dangerous."

If you happened to tune into National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" program

recently, you probably caught some harsh criticism of the Internet. One

particular opponent not only deemed the Net a "dangerous tool," but also

seemed to look forward to a day when the government would regulate

cyber-speech.

So who was the critic? Conservative crusader William Bennett? An official

from a parental watchdog group?

Actually, it was none other than shock-rocker and free-speech proponent

Marilyn Manson.

During a Feb. 24 interview to promote his recently released memoir, The

Long Hard Road Out of Hell, Manson was queried by host Terry Gross

about false rumors that have flourished concerning his live performances.

The singer then described allegations that he would lower a cage full of

children into the audience for beatings, or that he sent agents into the

crowd to disperse drugs among youth.

"Because [the rumors were] on the Internet, people believed it, which is

really strange and dangerous," Manson said.

The singer -- whose latest release, Remix and Repent, contains live

songs and new interpretations from his 1996 album, Antichrist

Superstar -- then went on to denounce the Net for its ability to spread

information on a grass-roots level, and anticipated government regulation to

stop rumor-mongering.

"In the wrong hands, the Internet can be a dangerous tool," he said. "It's

the CB radio of the '90s, but it's being interpreted as a legitimate source

of news, which it's not. I think eventually there will be some sort of

laws that will deal with that."

Manson's censure of the Internet came as a surprise to some who watched

last year as he repeatedly invoked his own First Amendment rights to

perform in the face of public opposition.

The Antichrist Superstar tour was dogged by critics, some of whom

simply denounced Manson's music, others of whom tried to bar the singer

from performing in their community. In nearly all cases, Manson was

allowed to play on grounds that banning his concerts in public arenas because of the content of his music was a violation of the First Amendment.

Neither Manson's manager nor his attorney could be reached for comment about the NPR interview.

Although he did not mention specific websites that raised his ire, one

would presume Manson was particularly angered by sites such as the American

Family Association's Gulf Coast Chapter homepage. Last April, the singer's

lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to the organization, ordering the

group to remove from its site statements that said Manson urged his

audiences to kill kittens and engage in sex during his performance. The

chapter still maintains a page called the "National Clearinghouse on

Marilyn Manson Concerts for Family & Decency Advocates."

Manson also told Gross that he believes people will be surprised by

his next album, which will not focus on his views about organized religion,

a topic he feels he's exhausted.

"After going through what I just did in the past two years, it's almost

like 'Edward Scissorhands' or 'E.T.' -- someone who feels like

they're in a place where they're not accepted or don't belong," Manson said.

"Often times, something that is different, that you don't understand, like

a spider, you want to kill it immediately. It's more from that

perspective. It's much more vulnerable music that I'm making on this new

album. Both sonically and lyrically it's about the depression of

alienation, rather than the aggressiveness of it. It's about the emptiness." [Tues., March 3, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]